In 50 days, I will walk into Northwestern Memorial Hospital for my second open heart surgery. Given that my first surgery took place when I was only eight months old—on December 1, 1981: almost 30 years to the day before this upcoming surgery—this feels like brand new territory for me. (I wonder if anyone in my family is experiencing deja vu.) While I certainly wouldn't say that I'm looking forward to the upcoming procedure, it has been an enlightening and educational journey. I mentioned in an earlier posting that I knew I would not be going through this alone, and the overwhelming amount of positive feedback and support that I received in response to the email I sent out last week is very clear evidence of that fact.
I am incredibly fortunate to have such a strong support network, not only among my family members and friends, but also among my work colleagues and the medical professionals with whom I have been interacting. I can honestly describe my experience to date with the doctors, nurses, and other staff at Northwestern's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute in two words: pure professionalism! Their direct, sincere, and patient-centered approach has allowed me to gain the confidence I need before undergoing such a major procedure. In addition, my genuinely inquisitive nature has caused me to do a fair amount of my own research along the way and has enabled me to have more intelligent conversations with the medical team. This has resulted in me having a better understanding of—and more control over—my own health!
I have no misconceptions that the upcoming journey will be easy, and I have already started taking some steps to help prepare myself for the physical, mental, and emotional challenges that lie ahead (both before and after the surgery). I have identified three (for now) primary methods of coping, processing, relaxing, and recovering: (1) reading: both for pure pleasure and for information; (2) playing music: primarily trying to get back some of my chops on the piano; and (3) exercising: with a focus on yoga and light cardio work.
Life is a journey, and in the words of Tony Horton: Bring it!